What Makes Me Happy

My default mode is positive, optimistic, happy, however you want to describe it. This doesn’t mean I never get sad or upset. I just choose to look at the world with a glass-half-full attitude. This past week I started reading the book The Happiness Project with my blog friend Stephanie. The author started her year-long happiness project not because she was sad, she just thought her happiness could be greater.

As I was reading the lengthy intro and first chapter, I started thinking about what makes me happy. I also thought about what could make me happier, or things I think would definitely contribute to my happiness. Here’s my happiness list I brainstormed:

  • Documenting! (Love capturing the everyday, the special, & the beautiful)
    • Project Life
    • Scrapbooking, in general
    • Photography (especially nature)
    • Blogging
  • Color!
  • Expressing my creativity
  • Good design & typography
  • Reading
    • Books & blogs
  • Witnessing the creativity of others
    • In-person, Instagram, Pinterest, Blogs I read
  • Spending time with and talking to my family and friends
  • Music
  • Creating/Working on projects
    • Knitting & crocheting especially
  • Personal touches in addition to a well-thought out décor design
    • Show that you are actually investing yourself in your space
  • Talking to people who work in Higher Ed and what they’re excited about by the field
  • Crossing or checking off things on my to-do list
  • Helping/working with students
    • Love helping to celebrate their successes
    • Proud to watch them grow (especially my Peer Educators!)
  • Traveling
  • Coffee
  • Returning to my Favorites
    • Books: Pride & Prejudice, HP series, Divergent series
    • TV Shows: Gilmore Girls, West Wing, Army Wives
    • Movies: Julie & Julia, Jane Austen Book Club, Pride & Prejudice, The Devil Wears Prada, The Holiday
  • Fresh, in-season strawberries
  • Smell of fresh cut hay
  • Spending time next to Lake Superior (beach, walks, parks)
  • National & State Parks
  • Hiking
  • Really getting to know the students who work in my office
  • Singing to music really loudly in my car
  • Being able to provide opportunities for my students (blogging, presenting, etc)

It’s quite a long list and I’m guessing not totally complete

After making my initial list, I started going through my Project Life albums to see if there was anything I missed. I came across this quote I had included in one of the weekly spreads, “It is not joy that makes us grateful, it is gratitude that makes us joyful.” Reading that quote caused me to pause and reflect. To have joy (or happiness) we need to have gratitude (or appreciation, awareness, thankfulness, etc). Even just going through the process of making my happiness list helped me appreciate and be grateful that there are so many things in my life that bring me joy and happiness.

What’s on your happiness list?

5 Years of Blogging

Happy Birthday to my blog! I claimed my little corner of the internet 5 years ago today because I wanted to share my summer adventure of interning at EOU in Oregon. Since this birthday was a major milestone for the blog, I took some time to reflect about whole experience.

Columbia River Gorge

What I’ve learned by blogging the past 5 years:

  • Having a space to process and share my experiences (both work and non-work related) has helped me to actually take the time to do that processing.
  • The community of bloggers is huge. So huge, that there are many communities. I’ve met some really cool people and been introduced to so many new ideas
  • Honing my blogging skills on my own blog first, helped me to have the confidence to introduce the idea of starting a blog at my office. We’ve now had the blog going for two years! It’s given so many of the students who work for us, the space to share their stories and hone their voices. I have felt so proud to help guide them through the whole process of writing for a blog.
  • I like having a space to call my own.
  • Having the blog helps with other documentation. I’m still working on scrapbooking my Summer 2010 experience in Oregon (the adventure that started this whole blogging business). Those books are so rich with detail about my experiences because I’m able to print off the blog posts I wrote while I was in Oregon. There’s no way I’d be able to include that same level of detail if I was trying to recall those details now, 5 years later.

Canal Park Sunrise

5 Favorite Blogs to Read (I have many more blogs in my reader. These are at the top of my to-read list everyday.)

Ultimately, I just want to say thank you for reading. I know that I haven’t had all that many blog posts over the past year or so, so thanks for sticking around. Here’s to many more years of giving my story a voice and having a place to share it.

Ice on the Beach

I took advantage of the sunshine on Saturday and ventured to the east side of Duluth to Brighton Beach. Apparently, several other people had this same idea. It was packed. Like middle of the summer packed. Anyway, I was able to stand the cold for a little while and had some fun with my camera. Here’s one of my favorite shots of the ice.

Brighton Beach Ice

Around Here – February Edition

Reading: just finished Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince and now I’m onto Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows. Seriously love these books.

HP 6

Watching: Season 3 and what has aired so far of Season 4 of Hart of Dixie. I forgot how much I enjoy that show. Some of it is just pure ridiculous, and that is what makes it great.

Progressing: I’ve read in a book for fun every day since January 1st. My goal is to read for fun every day this year.

Giving up: Said goodbye to soda for Lent. Hoping it’s a forever goodbye. However, the afternoon lack of alertness is a struggle.

Freezing: It’s been so cold here Duluth. The sunlight in the morning has been fantastic, but I’m so over winter.

Iced Tree Branch


Listening: The Wind and the Wave From the Wreckage album (discovered this great duo after their songs were used on Hart of Dixie); Maroon 5 album (late to the game on this one, but still really enjoy it); Alex & Sierra Scarecrow song (another find from Hart of Dixie); Kelly Clarkson’s new song Heartbeat Song

Making: Getting caught up on my Project Life album. Still loving this mode of documenting and can’t wait to wrap up my full second year of using this system of scrapbooking.

Encouraging: My students, as they do the work to prepare themselves for attending career fairs, applying for jobs and internships, and making some major life choices.

UM Job Fair

Snacking: Trying out Graze snack boxes thanks to Kendra. Healthy snacks sent right to my office! Here’s a referral code for you to try out your first box free: https://www.graze.com/us/p/ELLENH7WU

Enjoying: Early weekend mornings spent at Caribou Coffee getting things like professional development reading and blog planning done.

Book at Caribou

What have you been up to lately?

Starting a Book Challenge

Hello my dear internet friends who I’ve been slightly ignoring this year. I’m back! Here’s to a better blogging year in 2015.

I LOVE to read. The past year or so I’ve been in a little bit of a reading-for-fun rut. I found myself returning to my beloved books and re-reading them instead of pushing myself to read new-to-me books. In 2014, 9 out of the 23 books I read were re-reads. About mid-December I found a fabulous book challenge from PopSugar via Pinterest. I’m really hoping that participating in a challenge like this will jump start my interest in reading again.

little women

You can follow my progress over on the new page Book Challenge 2015. I encourage you to pick up a book or two and join me. :) As always, I’ll be tracking all the books I read for the year, over on my Books page.

Palm Trees at Sunset

Treasure Island FL Sunset

I think this is one of my early favorite photos that I took on vacation this past weekend. It was sunset over the Gulf of Mexico via Treasure Island near St. Petersburg, Florida. Sitting on the deck of Sloppy Joe’s on the Beach and watching the sunset was the cherry on top of a great vacation. I also love how the light from the sun silhouetted the palm trees. I took the photo with my Samsung Galaxy S5.

Sharing is Caring

Hello internet friends! I hope that your Fall is shaping up to be a good one. If you’ve missed me, sorry! A major component of my job is doing social media for my department and when I come home at night, I don’t have the motivation to keep crafting a message. I’ve been choosing to unwind in other ways (like crafting, reading, and watching my shows). I just thought I’d pop in with a few things I’ve been loving lately. Because, let’s be honest, sharing is caring. :)

Elise Blaha Cripe’s speech from the World Domination Summit conference. This was phenomenal. I watched it just before writing this post. I already want to watch it again and take some notes. Such good messages about trying, starting at step 1, saying things out loud, and that sometimes it’s okay to stop doing something if it’s not fulfilling to you anymore.

I did write a guest blog post! It was for the blog I run for my office. The post is all about finding a career in student affairs and how students can do that exploring right on our campus. It was one of those posts that I thought about over a day or two and then just sat down and wrote the thing. And wrote, and wrote, and edited, and wrote a little bit more.

Install the Momentum App if you use Chrome for your internet browser. You’ll thank me later. It runs in your “new tab” and provides a number things. You get to have a to-do list, weather, the time, an inspirational quote, a beautiful photo that changes daily, and your own goal for the day. I use it on a daily basis at work to keep track of all that I need to get accomplished throughout the day.

Taylor Swift – 1989. Loving the new T. Swift album.

Once it was announced in September that Gilmore Girls was coming to Netflix October 1st, I dug out my DVDs and started watching them. I have the entire series so I’ve been watching a few episodes each day. Currently in Season 5. Gilmore Girls is one of my favorite TV shows ever. I got hooked on it at the beginning of college (which happened to be season 2) and have watched the series many times over. It’s right up there with West Wing, Big Bang Theory, Friday Night Lights, and Friends. Speaking of Friends, it’s coming to Netflix in January. So excited!

Fall has been mostly fabulous here in Duluth. I say “mostly” because we have had some gross weather (like drizzle fog) mixed in with the gorgeous days. The photo below is from the Bagley Nature Area right next to the UMD campus near leaf peak at the end of September.

Bagley Sept 14